Southern Dharma Retreat Center Southern Dharma Retreat Center HomeContact Southern Dharma Retreat CenterDirections to Southern Dharma Retreat Center
Southern Dharma Retreat Center
Southern Dharma Retreat Center About SDRC About Retreats Retreat Schedule Scholarships Generosity Volunteer SDRC Store Practice Community
Southern Dharma Retreat Center
Southern Dharma Retreat Center Southern Dharma Retreat Center Welcome to Southern Dharma Retreat Center

General Information


Southern Dharma Retreat Center (SDRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational center that offers affordable, teacher-led retreats representing a variety of spiritual traditions with a unifying thread of meditation, contemplation, and silence. The center provides a comfortable gathering place in a safe and secluded mountain environment removed from the distractions of everyday life. It cultivates an atmosphere of quiet reflection where one can nurture a sense of peace and uncover truths within the heart.

Southern Dharma Retreat Center 25th AnniversaryLocation

Southern Dharma is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, about one hour northwest of Asheville by car. It is nestled in a secluded cove of Hap Mountain near the Pisgah National Forest. Although its mailing address is Hot Springs, SDRC is actually located near the small community of Spring Creek, about one-half hour south of the town of Hot Springs. The nearest airport is Asheville Regional Airport (AVL).


Southern Dharma retreats are distinguished by the natural beauty of the environment, the small size of the retreats, the excellence of the teachers, and the dedicated staff. Most retreats have no more than 25 or 26 participants. Retreats are conducted in the Buddhist tradition of Noble Silence with scheduled periods of meditation, dharma talks, and personal exchanges with teachers. People with widely varying levels of meditation experience come to Southern Dharma; some are beginners, while others have practiced for years, even decades. Unless retreats are designated only for experienced practitioners, they are appropriate for all levels of meditation experience.

Retreat Facilities

SDRC's facilities include a meditation hall, guest lodge, four tent platforms, and three rustic one-person cabins. All retreatants are housed on the premises. The lodge can accommodate twenty-five people and includes a dining room, kitchen, library corner with sitting area, bathrooms and showers, double and triple bedrooms on the second floor, and a dormitory with ten twin beds on the third floor. Four secluded tent platforms and three one-person cabins (no plumbing or electricity but with propane heat for the winter months) are located adjacent to a small creek with a summer shower house and toilet facility nearby.

Southern Dharma Retreat Center 25th Anniversary

Scholarships & Fellowships

Through the generosity of friends and donors, Southern Dharma offers work-exchange scholarships to people unable to attend retreats without financial assistance.

Qualifying educators and health care professionals may apply for fellowship grants funded through the generosity of the Hemera Foundation.

Resident Volunteers

Resident Volunteers commit to working 6-7 hours/day during scheduled retreat and retreat preparation days. Volunteers work with the center's resident staff for an agreed-upon length of stay in exchange for room, board, and the opportunity to participate in retreats as the work schedule and the needs of the center allow. The minimum stay is one complete retreat, and the maximum stay is three calendar months. SDRC hosts only one Resident Volunteer at a time.


Southern Dharma Retreat Center 25th AnniversarySouthern Dharma was founded in 1978 by Elizabeth Kent and Melinda Guyol, two women with remarkable energy, high ideals, and the willingness to take a chance on a dream. A five-year frenzy of clearing land, remodeling existing buildings, new construction, and road repairs followed the founding. During this initial construction phase, Southern Dharma sponsored a limited number of programs, and word about a new retreat center in western North Carolina slowly spread. As new facilities were completed through the years, retreat offerings increased in number, length, and size. The center was originally incorporated in the 1980's as Southern Dharma Foundation, Inc. The Foundation was dissolved in 1990 when the center was incorporated in North Carolina as Southern Dharma Retreat Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Southern Dharma currently offers approximately 25 retreats each year with attendance by more than 500 guests annually. Southern Dharma is home to four resident employees.


While SDRC welcomes visitors for brief visits between scheduled retreats, all visits must be approved by the Center and scheduled in advance. SDRC does not host private retreats or overnight visits between scheduled retreats.